Side Note: this post will be the first in a series of meal planning/prep/eating posts. A Clareity summary of sorts. Stay tuned throughout November for: Food Shopping, Cabinet Staples, Cooking Lessons, and Eating posts!
I’m a planner. Since I could possibly remember, my most favorite time of year is the “Back to School Shopping” time. (Besides the traditional holiday season…obviously) I always love stocking up on new black Sharpie pens, colored pens, mechanical pencils (with lead refills and a few of those traditional pink chunky eraser blocks), a planner and a few fun notebooks. Now, tastes have changed, and I am no longer in school, but I still like to indulge in a few “school related items” every now and again. Notebooks, planners, pens, my home office is stuffed with everything for success.
But what do I do? My life planning process will be a different post. Today, I want to dive into the concept of spreading all the notebooks, list pads, pens, pencils, planners out on the kitchen table and a nice tall cup of green tea, and just meal plan. Plan a week’s worth of lunches and dinners with what we currently have in the kitchen, what we need from the grocery store, what I need to prep (like boiling eggs, chopping fruits/veggies, etc.) Typically, when I finally sit down to plan, we don’t have much left in the house.
When we feel as though we are Old Mother Hubbard (insert “husband” and “chips and guac” for “dog” and “bone”), Mr. Clareity hints that we need to get some “provisions.” Typically that means just some snacks and junk food til we finally get around to doing a “big food shop.” I’m not a fan of running out for “provisions” since half the crap we buy we don’t eat. I cannot stand food shopping (everyone always seems to be magically needing the same items as me at the same exact time I reach for them…) so the less visits the better.
Scene is set. Now I figure out what the heck we are going to eat. Well…any meal we had last week? Not this week. At this point in my meal planning career, I safely can say we have about 50 go to meals that are tried and true. (Mr. Clareity is a very picky eater). But it also depends on what we have going on during the week. Is anyone staying late for work? Taking the first or second train? Do we have an outing? What’s going on this week? A Jamberry Party? A lot of factors to consider.
What’s in the pantry? Dried goods? What can we make with that? Any beans and rice? Okay, that’s the basis for one meal. Pasta sauce? Looks like we’re having a pasta dish this week. Can of tuna? Two lunches! Soup? What kind? Crockpot ingredients or lunch? Crackers? Smash those up instead of non-existent panko breadcrumbs. A can of chickpeas? Looks like I’ll roast those with some cayenne pepper. No cayenne? Try old bay. (A Clareity ESSENTIAL!) Box of brownie mix? Dessert. The week is shaping up! What about the freezer? We always seem to be losing things to freezer burn…
So now we have the basics. Looks like we are having a pasta dish, a meat with beans/rice (tipical for Latin American cuisine- we fell in love with Tipical cuisine in Costa Rica), something fried in the crackers (maybe a fish or a chicken), snack on some roasted chickpeas, make tuna for lunch, and well, let’s start from there. Three meals down, 3 to go (we end up cheating and ordering a pizza or eating out one night a week). Let’s go back into the planner for the last 2 weeks of recipes. Goodness if we repeat a meal.
Tuesday? Always tacos (or nachos). Done. Okay, there’s 4. 2 more to go…search online for some fun trendy recipe. Or revisit what we watched Saturday/Sunday mornings on the Food Network. Ree Drummond always has something good. Same with Nancy Fuller- even though her stuff seems complicated, we can make an easier version. Then check with Mr. Clareity. Will he want to try X dish? Sure? Let’s try it. Thankfully, he’s been okay with trying new things, and I’ve been excited to experiment. Plug them in. We should be ready to go! Make the list of ingredients to shop.
I cannot stand food shopping. May be my least favorite activity/chore. However, if it doesn’t get done, will we eat? (I’ll have a great satire on that soon). Hopefully my meal planning process seems somewhat cohesive and helpful for those in the process of starting to meal plan/prep!
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Need a lesson on how to prevent freezer burn? Check out one of my favorite articles on the topic.
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